More interfaith dialogue on 'Allah' issue needed, say Suhakam chairman

Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez, the retired second archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, mingling with members of the public outside the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya October 14, 2013. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez, the retired second archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, mingling with members of the public outside the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya October 14, 2013. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 — There should be more interfaith dialogue on the debate over the use of the word “Allah” so that there will be greater understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said today.

Hasmy noted that the right to use the Arabic word was a “sensitive” topic in Malaysia, particularly in Peninsular Malaysia.

“It's a sensitive issue in the context of Malaysia, especially Peninsular,” he told reporters after a session of roundtable talks organised by the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation.

“I think there should be more interfaith dialogue and discussion between the parties concerned so there will be greater understanding as to why the word 'Allah' is sensitive and sacrosanct to the Malays.

“And also for Malays to understand the perspective and practice of non-Muslims who use the word 'Allah', like Sabah and Sarawak, in Sikhism and also among Arab Christians who use 'Allah' to refer to God,” he added.

"Maybe over time there'll be greater understanding and no longer an issue between the parties concerned," Hasmy said.

Earlier, Zairil Khir Johari who said he was attending the roundtable discussion in his personal capacity, asked the panellists to comment on the “Allah” controversy.

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